Thursday, December 19, 2013

Historical Actuality & Sectarian Amnesia


Click Here to View the Main Index


Syncretism /ˈsɪŋkrətɪzəm/ is the combining of different, often seemingly contradictory beliefs, while melding practices of various schools of thought. Syncretism involves the merger and analogizing of several originally discrete traditions, especially in the theology and mythology of religion.

Amnesia (from Greek ἀμνησία, "ἀ" meaning "without", "μνησία" memory)

"Historicity is the study of the historical actuality of persons and events, meaning the quality of being part of history as opposed to being a historical myth or legend, or of being part of prehistory."

"Rimé was initially intended to counteract the novel growing suspicion and tension building between the different traditions, which at the time had, in many places, gone so far as to forbid studying one another's scriptures. Tibetan Buddhism has a long history of vigorous debate and argumentation between schools and within one's training. This can lead a practitioner to believe that one's school has the best approach or highest philosophic view and that other lineages have a lower or flawed understanding. The Rimé approach cautions against developing that viewpoint…"….é_movement#cite_ref-7

"Prof. Franz Cumont, of the University of Ghent, writes as follows concerning the religion of Mithra and the religion of Christ: "The sectaries of the Persian god, like the Christians', purified themselves by baptism, received by a species of confirmation the power necessary to combat the spirit of evil; and expected from a Lord's supper salvation of body and soul. Like the latter, they also held Sunday sacred, and celebrated the birth of the Sun on the 25th of December.... They both preached a categorical system of ethics, regarded asceticism as meritorious and counted among their principal virtues abstinence and continence, renunciation and self-control. Their conceptions of the world and of the destiny of man were similar. They both admitted the existence of a Heaven inhabited by beatified ones, situated in the upper regions, and of a Hell, peopled by demons, situated in the bowels of the Earth. They both placed a flood at the beginning of history; they both assigned as the source of their condition, a primitive revelation; they both, finally, believed in the immortality of the soul, in a last judgment, and in a resurrection of the dead, consequent upon a final conflagration of the universe" ….Franz Cumont…The Mysteries of Mithras, pp. 190

" Christian persecution of paganism after Theodosius I until the fall of the Roman Empire involved a long series of emperors, from both the Eastern and Western parts of the Empire, and ranged from 395 till 476…..Anti-Pagan laws were emanated throughout this period, by emperors like Arcadius, Honorius, Theodosius II, Marcian and Leo I the Thracian. The reiterations of the bans, especially on Pagan religious rites and sacrifices, and the increases of the penalties, indicated that the "Pagan" religion had still many followers….. Significant support for Paganism was present among Roman nobles, senators, magistrates, imperial palace officers, and other officials, which often omitted to apply the edicts or protested……. "Paganism" kept being followed by a large part of the population, which kept more and more undercover to formally comply with the edicts. Many Christians pretended to be such while continuing Pagan practices, and many converted back to Paganism; numerous laws against apostasy kept being promulgated and penalties increased since the time of Gratian and Theodosius. Pagans were openly voicing their resentment in historical works, like the writings of Eunapius and Olympiodorus, and books blaming the Christian egemony for the 410 Sack of Rome. Christians destroyed almost all such Pagan political literature, and threatened copyists with the cutting of their hands….Laws declared that buildings belonging to known Pagans and heretics were to be appropriated by the churches. St. Augustine exhorted his congregation in Carthage to smash all tangible symbols of paganism they could lay their hands on…. : Christian_persecution_of_paganism_after_Theodosius_I_until_the_fall_of_the_Roman_Empire.

Tibetan Sectarianism….."For hundreds of years competing Tibetan Buddhist sects engaged in bitterly violent clashes and summary executions. In 1660, the 5th Dalai Lama was faced with a rebellion in Tsang province, the stronghold of the rival Kagyu sect with its high lama known as the Karmapa. The 5th Dalai Lama called for harsh retribution against the rebels, directing the Mongol army to obliterate the male and female lines, and the offspring too “like eggs smashed against rocks…. In short, annihilate any traces of them, even their names.”…..In 1792, many Kagyu monasteries were confiscated and their monks were forcibly converted to the Gelug sect (the Dalai Lama’s denomination). The Gelug school, known also as the “Yellow Hats,” showed little tolerance or willingness to mix their teachings with other Buddhist sects. In the words of one of their traditional prayers: “Praise to you, violent god of the Yellow Hat teachings/who reduces to particles of dust/ great beings, high officials and ordinary people/ who pollute and corrupt the Gelug doctrine.” An eighteenth-century memoir of a Tibetan general depicts sectarian strife among Buddhists that is as brutal and bloody as any religious conflict might be. This grim history remains largely unvisited by present-day followers of Tibetan Buddhism in the West."……

"...The beginnings of Tibetan historical writing can be traced back to the period of the Tibetan empire, during the seventh through ninth centuries.1 Bureaucratic [page 2] record-keeping fostered the composition of state annals, and narrative traditions relating to the monarchy were set down as chronicles. There is clear evidence of the influence of Chinese historiography in the Tibetan imperial documents; we know that the Book of Documents (Shujing) and the Annals of the Warring States (Zhanguoce) were translated into Tibetan and that the Records of the Grand Historian (Shiji) was as least to some extent known.2 The first traces of Tibetan Buddhist historiography may be also found among the Dunhuang manuscripts, and it is probably significant that the earliest Tibetan Buddhist hagiographical writings now known are to be found in a Tibetan Chan text of the mid-ninth century and in a short tantric work of the ninth or tenth century.3 On the basis of these documents, it seems certain that both Chinese and Indian Buddhist hagiographical traditions were becoming known and were already contributing to the formation of indigenous Tibetan Buddhist hagiography. It is, however, only with the renewed transmission of Indian Buddhism to Tibet during the late-tenth and eleventh centuries that we see a real proliferation of hagiographical and auto-hagiographical writing in Tibet. As Janet Gyatso has rightly argued in her Apparitions of the Self, these developments were likely the product of the fragmentation of religious and political authority in the wake of the empire’s collapse. This situation issued in, in her words, “a competitive climate in which the personal accomplishments of the individual religious master became a centerpiece in the struggle to establish a lineage and eventually an institution and a power base.”4 Hagiography and lineage histories thus gave literary expression to a multitude of competing claims of spiritual authority. It is by no means surprising, therefore, that the emphasis in these works is, in the first instance, on revelations, visions, prophetic dreams, miraculous abilities and mystical attainments, and secondarily on the study and transmission of authoritative Buddhist teachings and texts. Matters of historical circumstance of the sort that we emphasize in much of modern historiography rank a poor third."....Chronological Conundrums in the Life of Khyung po rnal ’byor: Hagiography and Historical Time by Matthew T. Kapstein

"…. the Shambhala teachings, originally conceived by Chögyam Trungpa as secular practices for achieving enlightened society, incorporated elements of Bön, Taoism, Confucianism, and Shinto…..Trungpa Rinpoche incorporated other elements into Shambhala tradition that he thought would be beneficial to practitioners. From the Bön religion, the lhasang ceremony is performed; other elements of shamanism play a role. From Confucianism comes a framework of heaven, earth, and man for understanding the proper relationship between different elements of compositions of all kinds. From Taoism comes the use of feng shui and other incorporations. From the Shinto tradition comes the use of kami shrines to honor natural forces in specific locales….The shrine rooms in Shambhala Buddhism,reflect the Zen aesthetic of kanso (simplicity), tend to be sparsely furnished and decorated, whereas traditional Tibetan Buddhist shrine rooms are elaborate, ornate, and colorful….."….

The Mughal emperor Akbar, who wanted to consolidate the diverse religious communities in his empire, propounded Din-i-Ilahi, a syncretic religion intended to merge the best elements of the religions of his empire…The Dīn-i Ilāhī (Persian: دین الهی‎ lit. "Religion of God") was a syncretic religion propounded by the Mughal emperor Akbar the Great in 1582 AD, intending to merge the best elements of the religions of his empire, and thereby reconcile the differences that divided his subjects. The elements were primarily drawn from Islam and Hinduism, but some others were also taken from Christianity, Jainism and Zoroastrianism…..Akbar promoted tolerance of other faiths. In fact, not only did he tolerate them, he encouraged debate on philosophical and religious issues. This led to the creation of the Ibādat Khāna ("House of Worship") at Fatehpur Sikri in 1575. He had already repealed the Jizya (tax on non-Muslims) in 1568. A religious experience while hunting in 1578 further increased his interest in the religious traditions of his empire….From the discussions he led at the Ibādat Khāna, Akbar concluded that no single religion could claim the monopoly of truth. This inspired him to create the Dīn-i Ilāhī in 1582. Various pious Muslims, among them the Qadi of Bengal and the seminal Sufi personality Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi, responded by declaring this to be blasphemy to Islam."….

"…Zoroaster is generally considered to have been a priest (zaotar) living in Central Asia….In time, he came to the court of King Vishtaspa, who may have lived in modern Afghanistan, and who, at any rate, was converted to Zoroaster's new religion. Zoroaster had a divine vision that led him to reform existing religious practices. His verses are thought to include descriptions of this vision….Zoroaster's new (or reformed) religion came within an existing Indo-Iranian tradition. Some say Zoroastrianism was in response to existing polytheistic religion; others, that it reformed existing monotheistic ones."….

"Man·i·chae·ism …. the system of religious doctrines, including elements of Gnosticism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity, Buddhism, etc., taught by the Persian prophet Mani (?276 ad), based on a supposed primordial conflict between light and darkness or goodness and evil….The syncretic, dualistic religious philosophy taught by the Persian prophet Manes, combining elements of Zoroastrian, Christian, and Gnostic thought and opposed by the imperial Roman government, Neo-Platonist philosophers, and orthodox Christians….Manichaeism was a syncretic religion, proclaimed by the Iranian Prophet Mani..

Brazilian Buddhism……"Although syncretism is frequently described in the history of Buddhism in Asia, little has been discussed regarding its presence in Buddhism in western countries, where the concept would be helpful for analysing the popularization of Buddhism and its new combinations. From this point of view, the first aim of this article is to present a new heuristic category, one that contrasts the more rigid concept of identity established by so-called "Protestant Buddhism." Given the growing dilution of Buddhist identity and its tendency toward syncretism in Brazil, this paper works with the heuristic concept of a "Buddhism in Syncretic Shape." Since this concept is useful for better understanding some groups in Brazil, it is suggested that it can also provide interesting insights for the study of Buddhism in the West. This concept will be developed through a detailed description of Shingon in Brazil, which has undergone a religious synthesis with Catholicism and Afro-Brazilian religions….Catholicism in Central and South America has been integrated with a number of elements derived from indigenous and slave cultures in those areas.."….

"Greco-Buddhism, sometimes spelled Graeco-Buddhism, refers to the cultural syncretism between Hellenistic culture and Buddhism, which developed between the 4th century BCE and the 5th century CE in the Indian sub-continent, especially in modern Afghanistan, Pakistan and north-western border regions of modern India. It was a cultural consequence of a long chain of interactions begun by Greek forays into India from the time of Alexander the Great, carried further by the establishment of Indo-Greek rule in the area for some centuries, and extended during flourishing of the Hellenized empire of the Kushans.[citation needed] Greco-Buddhism influenced the artistic, and perhaps the spiritual development of Buddhism, particularly Mahayana Buddhism, which represents one of the two main branches of Buddhism. The Buddhist religious system was then adopted in Central and Northeastern Asia, from the 1st century CE, ultimately spreading to China, Korea, Japan and Vietnam."….

"….Rimé is a Tibetan word which means "no sides", "non-partisan" or "non-sectarian". In a religious context, the word ri-mé is usually used to refer to the "Eclectic Movement" between three of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism - Nyingma, Sakya, and Kagyu, along with the non-Buddhist Bön religion. According to Rimé approach practitioners "follow multiple lineages of practice." The movement was founded in Eastern Tibet during the late 19th century largely by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, the latter of whom is often respected as the founder."….Lopez, Donald S. (1998). Prisoners of Shangri-La: Tibetan Buddhism and the West. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, p. 190

"Most scholars of Buddhism explain Rimé as an "eclectic movement", however one scholar has suggested that this is an inadequate rendering, saying "In fact this Rimé movement was not exactly eclectic but universalistic (and encyclopaedic), rimed (pa) (the antonym of risu ch'edpa) meaning unbounded, all-embracing, unlimited, and also impartial."…..Samuel, Goeffrey (1993). Civilized Shamans. Buddhism in Tibetan Societies, p. 538

"In the early 11th century, the Islamic scholar Abū Rayhān Bīrūnī wrote detailed comparative studies on the anthropology of religions across the Middle East, Mediterranean and especially the Indian subcontinent. Biruni's anthropology of religion was only possible for a scholar deeply immersed in the lore of other nations. He carried out extensive, personal investigations of the peoples, customs, and religions of the Indian subcontinent, and was a pioneer in comparative religion and the anthropology of religion….According to Arthur Jeffery, "It is rare until modern times to find so fair and unprejudiced a statement of the views of other religions, so earnest an attempt to study them in the best sources, and such care to find a method which for this branch of study would be both rigorous and just." Biruni compared Islam with pre-Islamic religions, and was willing to accept certain elements of pre-Islamic wisdom which would conform with his understanding of the Islamic spirit…..In the introduction to his Indica, Biruni himself writes that his intent behind the work was to engage dialogue between Islam and the Indian religions, particularly Hinduism as well as Buddhism. Biruni was aware that statements about a religion would be open to criticism by its adherents, and insisted that a scholar should follow the requirements of a strictly scientific method."….

"Historicity is the study of the historical actuality of persons and events, meaning the quality of being part of history as opposed to being a historical myth or legend, or of being part of prehistory. Questions of historicity arise where accounts of events are believed by some to be true, but cannot be verified, either due to the absence of historical records of sufficient accepted reliability or where historical accounts incorporate folklore, theological views or literature as fact…..Most modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed, but scholars differ on the historicity of specific episodes described in the Biblical accounts of Jesus, and the only two events subject to "almost universal assent" are that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate….. Biblical scholars and classical historians regard theories of his non-existence as effectively refuted. Most scholars agree that Jesus was a Galilean Jew who was born between 7 and 4 BC, in the closing stages of the reign of King Herod and died 30–36 AD, that he lived in Galilee and Judea, did not preach or study elsewhere, and that he spoke Aramaic and perhaps also Hebrew and maybe Greek…."….

Historicity….his·to·ric·i·ty noun …. historical actuality….Historicity in philosophy is the idea or fact that something has historical origin and developed through history: concepts, practices, values...Martin Heidegger argued in Being and Time that it is temporality that gives rise to history. All things have their place and time, and nothing past is outside of history….. Michel-Rolph Trouillot offers a different insight into the meaning and uses of Historicity. Trouillot explains that "The ways in which what happened,and what is said to have happened are and are not the same may itself be historical"…..

"…Issues of historicity particularly apply to the factual nature of events reported in partisan or poetic accounts. For example, the historicity of the Iliad is a topic of debate because later archaeological finds suggest that the work was based on some true event"….


John Hopkins.....Northern New Mexico….December 2013


No comments:

Post a Comment